Connecticut, like the rest of the nation, spent the last week remembering the life of U.S. Sen. John McCain, R- Ariz.,who will be buried today.

With one notable exception, Republicans and Democrats alike took part in the public remembrance ceremonies – perhaps for slightly different reasons – and former Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman, McCain’s “amigo,” while mourning in private, was among the speakers.

The life of a nation might slow, but does not stop for one great man, of course, and there were plenty of goings-on in the nation’s and state’s political scene last week.

Independent gubernatorial candidate Oz Griebel discusses pilot tolling plan with reporters. Keith M. Phaneuf /

Gubernatorial contenders Ned Lamont, a Democrat; and Bob Stefanowski, a Republican, picked up a third competitor last week – independent Oz Griebel, who qualified for the race with the Secretary of State’s office. Whether he and his running mate Monte Frank will get any traction with their take-your-medicine approach to Connecticut’s fiscal problems remains to be seen.

(While the state has built up its financial reserves to the highest amount in a decade, it is still facing a $2 billion deficit next year and even more the year after.)

Lamont, for his part, while pooh-poohing his opponent’s income tax-reduction plan, is proposing property tax relief that is also facing some formidable facts – not the least of which is a projected $2 billion deficit in the 2019-20 fiscal year. Lamont is also trying to hit the right notes with Connecticut’s politically powerful organized labor movement — a tricky thing in a year with so many fiscal constraints.

Appearing at the bi-annual convention of the AFL-CIO, he and other Democrats, including 5th Congressional District hopeful Jahana Hayes, depicted President Donald Trump and those who represent his policies as threats to affordable health care, environmental standards, women’s rights to reproductive care, and gun control.

Stefanowski, meanwhile, picked up the endorsement of the Independent Party, which will give him a place on a second ballot line. He declined to participate in the first debate of the general election season, but signed on for four others where he will likely get to defend his problematic proposal to phase out the state income tax over the next eight years.

Elsewhere on the campaign circuit U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, one of McCain’s travel companions on international trips, launched his first TV commercial in his re-election bid focusing on his annual walk across the state to meet constituents.

The Connecticut Business and Industry Association, meanwhile, changed it approach to the upcoming state legislative election, backing away from expenditures on individual candidates in favor of an ad campaign advocating for business issues.

There were a lot of developments on the medical and health-care fronts, not much of it good.

The incidence of sexually transmitted diseases in Connecticut jumped dramatically last year, hitting record high levels. Meanwhile, a new study by the Kaiser Family Foundation says that 24 percent of Hartford area residents have some sort of pre-existing medical condition — a situation that could jeopardize their health insurance coverage if the pre-existing condition element of the Affordable Care Act is overturned.

One break for consumers: The U.S. Senate approved a bipartisan measure that legislation that would require “direct-to-consumer” advertising on a variety of drugs to include the price of these medications, which are among the costliest on the market.

Congress is decidedly not in agreement on whether the pending Farm Bill should impose strict new work requirements on nearly everyone receiving food stamps.

Two immigrant children separated from then re-united with their parents got some time to sort things out when officials granted them a year of legal status. What will become of the boys formerly housed at the Connecticut Juvenile Training School is more problematic, since state officials were not prepared to properly house them when the Middletown institution was shut down.

Paul has more than 40 years of reporting and editing experience at newspapers in New Jersey, Florida and Connecticut. He worked 22 years at the Hartford Courant in various editing roles including as deputy state editor, assistant editor of Northeast Magazine, and as an associate editor at He earned his bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University. A trained chef, he and his wife own and operate a bed and breakfast in an historic home in Mansfield.

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